Our Kenya Open Quest Scholars


Sayo Ayodele

12 September 2016

This year, as a result of a generous grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, we have been able to offer scholarships to non-profit leaders and key influencers as part of a broader initiative to support outstanding civil society leaders. Our vision is to create a vibrant network of change-makers who are working to strengthen organisations and communities around the world.

The first scholars are taking part in Kenya Open Quest, September 2016. From spending time in the country’s largest prison for women, to playing football with the youth of Mathare and staying in a Maasai community sleeping under the stars, they’ll be finding inspiration from a fantastic range of Kenyan hosts. Find out more about our wonderful scholars, accompanied by some pictures taken on the Quest!

Alex Gichohi, Musician

Alex, also known as Zangi, is a London-based Kenyan gospel artist. His first passion is music and he loves to use this as a way of expressing his faith. He writes and performs his songs across the UK and has worked with a number of churches and voluntary organisations. 

As well as his love for music, Alex is passionate about people, and has had the privilege of working with the homeless for several years. He and his wife also provide foster care for vulnerable children. Most recently, Alex and a team of his friends established ‘The Root’, a registered charity in Kenya that aims to empower people to bring about positive change in their local communities.

Chad Rochkind, Founder, Human Scale Studio

Chad is the Founder and Principal of Human Scale Studio, an urban planning consultancy that lives at the intersection of human-centered design, long-term planning and tactical urbanism. Chad is a Knight 880 Cities Fellow, and one of Metropolis magazine’s 10 New Talents. He holds an MA in Historical and Sustainable Architecture from NYU.

Chad's work is currently focused on helping the Corktown neighbourhood of Detroit become more walkable and vibrant. In 2015, he installed a parklet on Michigan Avenue that received national media exposure and started a citywide conversation about the future of Detroit’s streets. 

Deniz Senol Sert, Associate Professor, Ozyegin University

Deniz Senol Sert is an Associate Professor of International Relations at Ozyegin University, Istanbul. Before joining OzU, she was a Senior Research Associate at the Migration Research Center, Koc University, Istanbul. She is a renowned expert on migration issues in Turkey and globally who has taught and researched at several institutions domestically and abroad.

Deniz received her BA in International Relations from Koc University, an MSc in European Union Policy Making from the London School of Economics, and an MPhil in Political Science from the City University of New York. She received her PhD in comparative politics in 2008 from the City University of New York; her thesis was entitled ‘The Property Rights of Conflict-Induced Internally Displaced People: Ideals, Realities, Lessons.’

Juliet Can, Founder & Director, Stour Space

Juliet is a Director of Stour Space, a social enterprise that supports creative businesses and offers affordable studio space, mentorship and education to the local community. From its location on the periphery of the Olympic site, it strives to keep the Olympic legacy alive, inform on regeneration and ensure the creative sector continues to thrive in East London. 

Juliet also runs Unexpected Journeys, which researches and develops services to support victims of human trafficking. She has a degree in accounting and finance and postgraduate certificate in Refugee and Development Studies.

Dr. Kiran Modi, Managing Trustee, Udayan Care

A co-author of a series of books on life skills and health for children, Kiran (who has a doctorate in American Literature from IIT Delhi) has experience in several fields. She has worked in media, children’s theatre and been a founding member of several trusts working for vulnerable people. She previously launched Delhi’s first community tabloid – the Neighbourhood Star.

Kiran founded Udayan Care – a trust for disadvantaged children and women – in 1994. Udayan Ghars (Sunshine Family Homes), the flagship programme, focuses on orphaned and abandoned children and is underpinned by the belief that every child has the right to a family environment. Udayan Shalini Fellowship, a similar initiative, reflects Kiran’s belief in gender equality and empowers thousands of girls through higher education. 

Maggie Norris, Artistic Director and CEO, The Big House Theatre Company

Maggie is the Founder and Chief Executive of The Big House. Established in November 2012, it has gone from start-up to award-winning charity in under three years. It’s the only theatre company in the UK which works with young people who have been brought up in care. In 2014, The Big House was given the Born to Be Award from the Centre for Social Justice in recognition of its impact, making it the youngest charity to win this accolade.

Previously, Maggie was Artistic Director of Only Connect, a creative arts charity that works with offenders and ex-offenders. She planned the artistic policy and commissioned, developed and directed eight plays between 2008 and 2012, including a large promenade production inside Wormwood Scrubs. 

Margaret Pierre, Director, High Trees Community Development Trust

Margaret has been the Director of High Trees Community Development Trust in Tulse Hill, South West London, since 2009. It's a multi-purpose centre delivering adult courses, employment and family support, and is a community anchor and hub for social and economic development. 

Faced with a difficult financial and funding climate, Margaret is transforming the organisation into one that is robust, sustainable and vision-led (rather than funding-led). It has moved from deficit to surplus and Margaret and her team are implementing plans to make it investment-ready.

Margaret is an inspirational facilitator, coach and trainer with a passion and drive to support people to achieve their potential, no matter where they are in life's journey.

Oliver Waddington-Ball, CEO & Founder, Goldfinger Factory

Oliver owns and runs his own social enterprise consultancy between UK and China, enabling his clients to plan, finance, implement and develop some of the largest social enterprises of their kind in the world. His current focus is establishing the Goldfinger Factory as a design, build, teaching platform and brand in the heart of Portobello, with backing from the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. 

Oliver has won industry awards from The Big Issue Invest and UnLtd. He was invited to Brussels to represent the UK and talk about urban regeneration at the 2015 SEISMIC conference, and speak alongside the Turner prize-winning architects Assemble at 100% Design. As a result, Oliver is becoming a recognised expert for his work in social enterprise development as well as environmental and business sustainability. 

Ramadan Assi, Director of Global Strategy, International Medical Corps

Ramadan is an advocate for human rights, sustainable health system strategies and innovative development projects anchored in social justice, poverty eradication and the well-being of communities everywhere. Currently based in Ankara, Turkey, he occupies three positions for International Medical Corps: Director of Global Strategy, Turkey Country Director and Special Advisor for Gulf Cooperation Council and Middle East & North Africa Regional Affairs. 

His responsibilities include ensuring goals are met regarding conflict-affected Syrian, Iraqi and other refugee communities and their access to primary healthcare, mental health, psychosocial support, economic empowerment, informal education and social services. He engages with strategic partners in the MENA region, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Islamic Development Bank, UN and US aid agencies, UK Aid, the EU, ECHO and various European donor states (eg the Swiss government).

Venil Ali, Mumbai City Director, Teach for India

Born and brought up in Mumbai, Venil studied at Bombay Scottish School, gained a BA in Life Sciences and Biochemistry at St Xavier’s College, and an MA in Biochemistry from the city’s Sion Hospital. Through her time at St Xavier’s, she volunteered at an organisation called V Care, tutoring daily at its centre for cancer patients.

During this time, Venil started her own centre – called LEAP (Let's educate all people) – where she had around 45 students of all ages. She joined Teach For India as a two-year Fellow in 2009, teaching Grade 3 and working with a group of 16 other Fellows on a government school transformation project (particularly with the School Principal training team). Since May 2013, she's been Teach For India’s Mumbai Director.